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So far David Bork has created 86 blog entries.

Collaboration: Agreement On Methods And On What “Privacy” Means

After 20 years of being friends and being familiar with each other’s work, Dr. Jaffe and I were able to use our particular strengths to help solve some thorny issues, without stepping on each other’s toes or working at cross purposes. We shared information and we innovated together because we had agreed on our methods and we understood the enormity of the need for absolute confidentiality.

Stop The Family Argument By Deciding How To Order Dinner

Everyone has heard about arguments in Family Business.  Relatives in the business are all together to make key decisions. Two are deadlocked in a toe-to-toe shout-down with one saying, “I’m right!” and the other resolutely insisting “No, I’m right!” Perhaps yet another is trying to jump in with “Look at my idea!” The meeting agenda has dissolved into a process of Ready! Fire! Aim!

There is a tried and true way to end this, and here is an example. We are a group of five colleagues working together. We need to have dinner but would like to continue our work. One colleague asks the others, “What does everyone want to eat?” Instead of naming restaurants, they listened to all comments and agreed on the following:

  1. Must be suitable to continue our conversation over dinner, so that rules out a noisy place.
  2. Must be within 3 miles radius, so we don’t lose momentum in our progress.
  3. Must be able to seat five guests at 7 p.m., since that time suits everyone present.
  4. Must have selections on the menu that will satisfy one person who is mostly vegetarian.

Notice that there is not high “ownership” for any of the criteria.  After we do a quick survey of restaurants nearby, soon one or two stand out.

The operative word is ownership. So often in family business differences are grounded in whose idea is being discussed rather than what is the idea. In the Little Red Book of Family Business it says, “An Idea doesn’t care who has it.  It (the idea) has no opinion on the bearer thereof.” It is preferable to establish the criteria and then list the range of options that might be worthy of consideration. Each option is measured against the criteria, not against who proposed the idea. By eliminating the attachment to […]

Reduce Anxiety During This Crisis For Your Family Business

Your job managing the family business did not come with a crystal ball. But now, you are getting calls and emails from family members, employees, vendors, suppliers, city officials, the local press, and never-before-heard-from stakeholders about what is going to happen to the enterprise that supports so many. Let me give you a proven solution: appoint an Ombudsman.

Boundaries Are Universal

The single most important issue in family business, above all the other important ones, is boundaries. Failure to establish and adhere to proper boundaries is the cause of more disruption than any other issue.

Boundaries: Who Does What?

There has been a lot in the news lately about “invading personal space,” and I really get why that is so important. Boundaries are a defining concept for every successful family business I’ve ever worked with, and it’s the second of my supporting pillars in my online course, Re-Imaging Relationships For Families In Business.  American poet Robert Frost noted that “good fences make good neighbors,” and I would add that good boundaries make good working relationships between family members.

In the nuclear family, usually parents and their children, or perhaps at some point just the siblings, there are relationships that have been developing since birth. Opinions about strengths and weaknesses have been forming for decades, and there are no secrets (usually) about escapades from anyone’s younger days. Normally by the time family members are working together as adults in a legacy business, they have already interacted with each other for decades within the intimacy of the family unit.

The family business must not become a metaphor for family.

Protocols must be different for work talk and family talk. The same is true for behaviors. If a bossy older sister has spent her life picking up projects abandoned by her younger brother, then she will continue to do this in the family business. This will result in the same resentment levels experienced by both siblings as this dynamic has occurred over the years. The family leader must know how to set the boundaries between sibling responsibilities,  and preferably with minimum risk to overall business progress. The leader must also know how to arbitrate when boundaries are disregarded. Perhaps that’s easier when a parent is running things, but when a sibling takes over as leader, he/she better be strong enough to insist on a) hands off someone else’s job and b) maybe job boundaries […]

Use Values-Based Leadership To Align The Family

As mentioned in the last blog, we all know that alignment starts with the family leader (presumably you!) In Lesson 2, Pillar 1 of my self-study course, Re-Imagining Relationships For Families In Business, you went through the exercise of writing down your own core values, and giving thought to your own code of ethics. Now you know the direction you want to lead family members who also participate in the legacy family business. Lesson 3 addresses how to align your family and how to deal with any members who are not eager to jump onto the same page as the others.

Something I know for sure: anything attempted without alignment is unlikely to be long-lasting. After 50+ years of working with families, I can say that this is a lesson I’ve seen learned in the hardest of ways. As the family leader, you might dread some parts of the exercises used to discover and distill your family members’ values. Still, you must all agree on the “how-to” before you can implement an agenda of growth and sustainability. I recommend a family alignment model called Values-Based Leadership.

What Is Values-Based Leadership?

Values-Based Leadership (VBL) is defined by The Financial Times as, “motivating employees by connecting organizational goals to employees’ personal values.” In Re-Imagining Relationships, I make these four key points:

• Values precede ethics, and ethics precede performance.
• Foundational values guide decision making.
• VBL is statistically proven to deliver excellent results over long periods of time.
• VBL can be the foundation of a corporate climate that delivers predictable and sustainable results.

If you and your family agree to operate under a Values-Based Leadership model, then your “core values represent the soul of the organization, and they are likely to remain steadfast in the face of changing market trends and fads.” (Pillar 1, Lesson 3.)
Now, on the […]

Step 1: Alignment And Core Values–You First

Alignment is how learning to resolve family issues begins, and this is how my self-study course, Re-Imagining Relationships For Families In Business begins. My use of the concept of alignment is meant to be a 3D acceptance of your basic core values.

A First Step To Resolving Issues In The Family Business

I have worked 50+ years consulting in family business matters, and I recognize the clues when family members begin the process of working on “the issues.” “The issues” vary, of course, but there can turning points when a family business needs an outside opinion, maybe some suggestions, to resolve painful or contentious situations. For those family leaders who would like to do some groundwork, I’ve created an online course called Re-Imagining Relationships For Families In Business. This is a distillation of what I have seen and worked with over the length of my career. I know for sure that the relationships within the family business dynamic (or any business dynamic, for that matter) are the key to sustaining the legacy of success.

These Four Pillars Support A Successful Platform

The lessons around each of the 4 Pillars include exercises and supplemental resources to help family leaders, or the upcoming family leaders, understand and incorporate the key takeaways from each concept. Pillar 1 is all about Alignment. Right off the bat there is an exercise in values clarification because a leader must begin with what he (or she) knows about himself/herself. Then his job is to learn where the rest of the family is with their values. Once all have agreed on a values statement for the business, then they can move on to Pillar 2, which is about Boundaries. Anyone who grew up with siblings already knows that personal space is an issue that begins with the very young. (Mom! Make (brother or sister) get out of my room! Or move over in the car. Or stop playing with my toys, etc.)

Boundaries should be addressed right away when sorting out how to best get the family business moving together towards success. Oldest child may feel she should be able to step […]

My, How We’ve Grown In The Family Business Support Profession

It’s been a year of introspection for me, and I’ve spent some time looking back on a half-century career of working with families in business. This thought-work was how I knew to structure my recently released online course, Re-Imagining Relationships for Families In Business. Having to first distill, then organize those principles that I know for sure get results when working with legacy business families took me quite a long way down memory road. I see that, when those involved realized the overall impact of family businesses in global terms, then our consulting and support profession really gained depth and structure.

Nowhere were such changes more dramatically evident than at the recent FFI annual conference in London. The photo you see was taken there, and I have dubbed it “The Stalwarts.” Left to right, it’s Dirk Junge, James Olan Hutcheson, and me. We have all been involved with FFI since its inception, and we were doing the family business consulting work before there were official societies to support it. I’m seeing fewer and fewer of the more senior players in the Fam Biz orbit at these get-togethers, but Dirk, James, and I are still showing up.

In London I was pleased to see a large group of Spanish-speaking participants, and an equally large group of attendees from the Middle East. FFI is now a truly international association of like-minded professionals. I give Judy Green credit for making this happen. I would gauge the majority median age range at the global conference to be 35 – 50, and I think they could have benefited if more of the original seminal thinkers in our profession were there to mingle and to answer questions. That’s a reason I keep attending.

I’ve always believed that change is good and in fact, our ability to change is pivotal […]

Family Business Issues Are My Focus While In Europe

I’ve been enjoying the lull between the Strategic Management Society Annual Conference in Paris in late September and the Family Firm Institute Global Conference, set to kick off next week on October 24 in London. It’s always so stimulating to get together with like-minded people who share common interests and to hear like-minded people who maybe have other views of topics that I feel strongly about. Our profession should be about learning and sharing, and about meeting new players and greeting old friends and colleagues.

And speaking of such, recently there was an historic meeting, at my invitation, between some of the best minds and leading family business consultants. We met in Paris, post SMS. I got to spend time with Peter May, of Peter May Family Business Consulting (Bonn, GR) and his partners Karen May and Dr. Arno Lehmann-Tolkmitt, Velitchka Hristova, Executive at Bank Gutmann (Vienna) and an associate at Family Business Matters Consulting, and Samuel Maldonado, also an associate at Family Business Matters Consulting.

The focus of the meeting was to better understand each firm’s protocol for consulting with family-owned enterprise and to explore possibilities for future collaboration. Both Peter and I are very passionate about family enterprise, and we both seek to serve in the best ways possible. The conclusion was that combining aspects of our respective methodologies has great potential for even better results in our consultative processes.

Peter and I will meet for two days in December to expand the reciprocal understanding of our methods, and the specifics about their application. Our recent coming together was also time spent laughing and exchanging stories and enjoying each other’s company. This is one of my favorite kind of days, and to spend it in beautiful Paris was a bonus. Now I am looking forward to chatting with and listening to […]

By |2020-06-25T08:14:29-06:00October 19th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.